The day starts as it will end: in the wireless network. At night the smartphone keeps us from sleeping, in the morning it keeps us from getting up. Stretched out we squint at screens, allowing images to seep unfiltered into our innermost being: A fascist mass murderer leveling a gun at praying Muslims, a female matador from the Bronx entering the capitol waving flags, teenagers beating their fear for the planet into car bonnets, overly powerful computers forcing pilots and passengers to plunge to ruin. Where we used to have paper between covers, a program at a specified time listed in a TV guide, we now have the content minus the container.
It is easier to imagine infinite space than the fact that the internet is finite. Yet the information doesn’t provide answers, it simply raises more questions. What’s important, what’s negligible? How is everything connected? Should we put our phones away and take to the streets? Is it always the eleventh hour? We can get high on chaos – or use it as a prompt to get organized. Drive ourselves over the edge by posting, or take part in debate. Things have always been confusing. It is just that now no-one has the sole prerogative of interpretation any more, there is no-one to lead us through the confusion. Politicians, journalists and other world-explainers are now pitted against blue haired nymphs, adolescent influencers and weather gurus. While the former may have their positions and posts, they don’t have followers – so their voices simply aren’t heard any more.
We are alone as we walk through the exhibition, too: there’s no audio guide that might explain things to us. And while the artist provides no explanation, he does offer many perspectives: Perspectives you won’t get in a filter bubble. Trending Topics opens up an unusual, uncomfortable array of themes for contemplation that would hardly have ended up in the same filter anywhere else. Tobias Donat interweaves our timelines in his work – and us along with them. He allows us to break out of the algorithm and consciously turn our gaze towards the bigger picture of our public life.